NFL Sunday Picks: San Diego Chargers at St. Louis Rams

San Diego Chargers at St. Louis Rams
Sunday, 10/17/10, 1:00 PM EDT, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  San Diego -9
Current Betting Line:  San Diego -7.5
Opening Total:  45
Current Total:  44
Current Moneyline:  San Diego -385 / St. Louis +325

San Diego is focused on winning its first road game of the year and even up its overall record

San Diego is 2-3 after five games for the fourth consecutive season and is coming off a 35-27 road loss to the Raiders.  “Losing’s tough,” said quarterback Philip Rivers.  “This one’s no tougher than the other two.  We made some mistakes that we made in our other losses and it resulted in the same thing.”  The Chargers have actually outscored opponents by 34 points this year, making them one of two teams below .500 with a positive ratio.  San Diego won 11 straight games to conclude the 2009 season and the Rams won one game all of last year, but both enter with the same exact record this year.  The team is searching to win its first road game of the season and avoid losing four straight road games since 2008.  Over the last three years, head coach Norv Turner’s team has compiled a 19-20 ATS record and the total is 22-15 Over/Under in those contests.

The Chargers are undoubtedly led by Rivers at quarterback, who leads the NFL with 1,759 passing yards and is tied for first with 11 touchdowns.  San Diego has the league’s best offense by more than 40 yards in averaging 461.8 per game.  Unfortunately, the team has been bitten by losing nine fumbles and turning the ball over five times in the red zone.  Special teams has been a major weakness over the first five weeks, as opponents have scored 30 points off mistakes, while having an NFL-high three punts blocked.  “I know what everyone wants to make it out to be.  It turns out to be a blame game,” Turner commented.  “It ain’t gonna turn out to be that with me.”  San Diego hasn’t played inside a dome in three years, but has a 22-7 ATS mark in its last 29 opportunities.

St. Louis looks to bounce back from a 44-6 blowout loss to the Lions last week that followed consecutive home victories.  “I understand the ebb and flow of momentum,” defensive end Chris Long said.  “You win a couple games and all of a sudden you are the favorite to do this and that then all of a sudden the sky is falling.”  This is the 10th all-time meeting between the teams, with the Rams holding a 5-4 advantage.  The squads have played three times since the Rams moved to St. Louis, with the Rams winning two, both in St. Louis in 2000 and 2002.  San Diego won in San Diego in 2006.  In the first five games, the team is 3-2 ATS and the total is 2-3 Over/Under.

The Rams are running out of weapons offensively, especially on the outside with the preseason loss of wide receiver Donnie Avery and now wideout Mark Clayton going down with a torn patellar tendon.  St. Louis will now lean on its running game more than ever in order to help out rookie quarterback Sam Bradford.  Running back Stephen Jackson has proclaimed his injured groin “100 percent” and said he doesn’t need the layers of protective padding he wore two weeks ago.  He needs 141 yards to pass Eric Dickerson and set the franchise career rushing record.  On the other side of the ball, St. Louis will need to focus on stopping the Chargers running attack, as they have averaged 165.5 rushing yards in its wins and 96.3 in their losses.

Bettors will definitely make note of the Chargers 3-0 ATS record off a division loss and 5-1 mark as a road favorite of 7.5 to 10 points.  St. Louis is 2-3 ATS as a home underdog of 7.5 to 10 points over the last three years.

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